Jay Z on Barneys controversy: ‘I am choosing to take this head on’

Jay Z, performing Oct. 10 at the O2 Arena in London, released a statement regarding his involvement with the department store Barneys.
(Joel Ryan / Joel Ryan/Invision/AP)

Jay Z said he’ll continue to work with a New York department store accused of racial profiling under the condition that he be granted a “leadership role” and a “seat on a council specifically convened” to address the issue.

Last month the rapper drew widespread criticism for his collaboration with Barneys on a collection of apparel and accessories after two African American shoppers said they were detained by police after shopping at the high-end store on Madison Avenue.

On Oct. 26 he posted a statement on his website in which he said he hadn’t commented on the matter because he was “waiting on facts and the outcome of a meeting between community leaders and Barneys,” which has also worked with Lady Gaga.

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“Why am I being demonized ... for not speaking immediately?” he asked.

In a second statement released Friday, Jay Z said that while he’s still waiting for results from an investigation by the New York State attorney general’s office, he’s decided to proceed with his Barneys line provided the retailer meet his demands.

“I am in a unique position to use my voice to affect change to this disturbing issue,” he wrote. “The easy position would have been to walk away and leave policy making to others hoping that someone addresses the problem. I will not leave the outcome to others. I will take this into my own hands with full power to recommend, review and revise policies and guidelines moving forward. I am choosing to take this head on.”

The rapper, born Shawn Carter, added that 100% of sales from his Barneys collection will go to the Shawn Carter Foundation, which according to the earlier statement provides aid to “individuals facing socio-economic hardships to help further their education at institutions of higher learning.”


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